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Is Stephen Colbert Breaking The Law?

We thought he was, for a second, by apparently coordinating with his SuperPAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. But wait: There's a loophole!

Posted on January 17, 2012, at 9:51 a.m. ET

Comedian Stephen Colbert has spent much of this cycle mocking American politics in general and its incomprehensible system of big, anonymous money in particular through his mischief-making Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow PAC, which yesterday launched a campaign in support of Herman Cain.

But is he also actually breaking federal law?

A BuzzFeed reader emailed us last night:

Stephen Colbert and his Super PAC nearly simultaneously launched a "Vote Cain" effort tonight, but how did they do it without illegal coordination? Stephen Colbert begins taping at around 7:30 pm, and he detailed his "Vote Cain" strategy, complete with a scripted segment and clip package, on tonight's show. Meanwhile, the Colbert Super PAC released a slick 60-second "Vote Cain" ad before that Colbert Report episode even hit the air.

How did both production-intensive video segments get made within hours of each other without illegal coordination? I think Stephen Colbert owes us a hilarious explanation, one that also happens to illuminate the way candidates "don't coordinate" with their Super PACs

A top campaign finance lawyer also raised an eyebrow: "Generally, a lot of super pacs seem to have telepathic powers which are beyond the reach of the FEC," he emailed.

Several Colbert spokespeople didn't respond to an email on the question, but Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia lawyer and election law veteran, points to the Colbert loophole.

"Since Colbert isn't actually a candidate for office, there's no coordination," he emails. "If he were, then, yes, you'd want to know how the SuperPAC staff happened upon this idea."

Ah yes, the old not-a-candidate trick.